Fried chicken and waffles, great Italian food and dive bars make up Bronzeville's thriving restaurants and bars scene. Whether you're exploring the cafes along 43rd and 47th Streets or checking out the neighborhood's monuments, stop in to one of these spots for a meal or a drink.
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The best restaurants and bars in Bronzeville
Whoever you are, Pearl, thank you. You must be pretty special to have inspired this Creole-influenced soul-food restaurant in your name. We’ve learned the hard way to be patient with the long waits. But don’t worry: The fried chicken is so damn juicy and sealed in a crunchy, pepper-flecked exterior; the collard greens so tender and flavorful with pork bits; and the sweet-potato pie so fragrant with cinnamon and nutmeg (fluffy near the middle and caramelized where the filling meets the flaky crust) that we’d wait forever.
The father and son behind this rib house know a thing or two about barbecue—they hail from a part of Arkansas where smokers are more common than microwaves. Bring a hungry crew, stake out a table and order up a couple of slabs of meaty, tender spareribs, a whole mess of rib tips and a plate of hot links. If you’re still hungry after the main event, juicy smoked chicken and crispy catfish should round things out.
The Senegalese chef at this eatery uses slow methods of cooking mingled with the flavors of West African spices to make Old World, yet innovative, dishes. Signature entrées include mafé, a thick stew of lamb with ground peanuts and habanero peppers, and the succulent chicken yassa, grilled chicken that’s marinated in mustard powder, vinegar and lemon juice. But we’d move mountains for the dakhine, seared lamb shank with onions, tomato paste and peanut butter.
Don't let the bar layout of this restaurant dissuade you—your server will come out with a white tablecloth and set your table for dinner. Endulge by starting with zucchini fritti, fried and crunchy with a spicy sauce. For your entree, pick the lamb chops, tender and well-seasoned on top of garlicky mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach.
Tac's Cocktail Lounge is your quintessential neighborhood bar. Filled to the brim with locals, you'll find jazz groups playing on occasion, karaoke on Mondays and happy hour from 4–7pm Monday through Friday. Sit yourself down at the slot machine or get in line for darts—you'll fit right in.
For a quick lunch, Ain't She Sweet Cafe is your spot. With sandwiches, wraps, salads and smoothies to pick from, you can create your own or pick from their lineup. Our favorite? Da Steve, a croissant with turkey, turkey ham and turkey bacon with cheddar and pepper cheeses, LTO, mayo, mustard and giardiniera.
This no-frills rendition of chicken and waffles will leave you wishing that you had a bottomless stomach. The fried chicken is the star of the restaurant's signature dish, a half chicken served with two cinnamon waffles that is affectionately named the Betty Lou. You can split it with a friend, but you'll have to decide who gets the breast, which boasts the majority of the crispy chicken skin.
This large breakfast spot serves up all the usual components of the first meal of the day, with the salmon croquettes being among the most popular menu item. But grab the biscuit slider, or at least get a biscuit on the side, because this flaky, buttery gem is one you're going to want to savor.